Six quick takeaways from Minnesota’s election results

Rachel E. Stassen-Berger, StarTribune's "Hot Dish Politics," November 5, 2014

The votes are counted. The results are in.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton and Al Franken won handily. Democrats swept the other statewide offices but Republicans pulled out a big win in the Minnesota House.

Here are six takeaways tucked in the details:

1) What wave?: Minnesota continued its pattern of standing firm against national waves in statewide races. In 2006, Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty won in a terrible Republican year. Four years later, Dayton won in one of the best years for Republicans in recent memory. Dayton did it again on Tuesday as voters in other states were expanding the Republican hold on governorships and giving the party control of the U.S. Senate.

2) Split those tickets: Minnesota are thoughtful ticket-splitters. In the northern Eighth Congressional District, Franken won nearly 54 percent of the vote and Dayton took in just 51 percent. Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, whose race to keep his seat was one of the most expensive in the nation, netted slightly less than 49 percent of the vote to Republican Stewart Mills’ 47 percent. Voters made careful choices.

3) Independence falters: For the first time in nearly a generation, Minnesota’s Independence Party failed to get at least 5 percent in a statewide race. That means at the end of this year, the third party will lack major party status and will have to struggle even harder to gain traction.

4) A majority victory: In part because of Independence Party’s 2014 showing, Dayton became the first governor in at least 20 years to win more than 50 percent in an election.

5) Struggles ahead: Come January, the DFL governor, the DFL-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House will try to find a fragile peace and lead the state together. The three powers will build fragile coalitions on transportation, budget issues and education that may not be purely partisan.

6) House-training: Republicans held the Minnesota House for just two years before losing it to Democrats. Democrats had it for just one term before falling on Tuesday. Republicans wrested it back but will now quickly have to sort out their expected leadership fight and work to create policies to keep the House in 2016, when all members, along with the Minnesota Senate and the next president will be on the ballot.